Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Along the Cattle Trail - in sight of Scotland

Last week I explored further along the old cattle drove road where it survives from the Commons to Dalway's Bawn.
This was a new stretch of the countryside for me, as I had only gone as far as the first hill after Lough Mourne before. Imagine my surprise when I ventured beyond the next brae, over the highest point, and suddenly the Irish sea and the coast of Scotland was there - straight ahead. (No history in this post, just a few photos.)

The center hill in the near horizon is Muldersleigh Hill, behind Whitehead - one of the ports where the cattle were exported from, the other being Portmuck in Islandmagee which can be seen on the distant left. The ridge of fields in the middle distance is in the townland of Bellahill (where Dalway's Bawn is), and the valley immediately in front is that of the Copeland Water, which marks the boundary of Carrickfergus County.

Just to explain for the benefit of anybody following this 'virtual' field trip, the figure on the lane is my long-suffering wife Helen, getting ahead of the game picking blackberries.

Going back to the first part of the cattle track which I described in an earlier post (
The Commons Cattle Trail Today, June 2010), some more photos from then set the scene just as you leave Lough Mourne and the Commons.

But back at the newly explored trail and the view of Scotland - you might have to click on this to enlarge if you want to see the Galloway coast - but believe me in the flesh it was as clear as anything, and to the left was the Scottish isle of Ailsa Craig looking just like Slemish rising out of the sea.

So, how far did we get? Well according to the map the lane goes all the way to Dalway's Bawn. But we only went on as far as the Copeland Water, at the bottom of the next valley. Here the lane crosses the Beltoy Road, and I was able to make a note of where to park the car when I (or we) come back to explore the next stage through Bellahill townland. (Our car was parked back at Lough Mourne, and as you will see from the next picture, this track is definitely not for ordinary vehicles).
At this point, the lane dives down to the valley bottom in a 1:3 gradient. Nothing like a field trip to understand why this lane survives without being made into a modern road!

So, nothing else for the time being except back to base at Lough Mourne.